Vitamin D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) are major regulators of calcium metabolism and vitamin D can also reduce the growth of normal cells and tumor cells. PTHrP and PTH act via a common membrane receptor (PTHR). The mouse PTHR is regulated by a kidney-selective upstream promoter P(1) and ubiquitous downstream promoter P(2). In vitro and in vivo 1,25(OH)(2)D can inhibit PTHR expression in bone but not cartilage by downregulating transcription via P(2). Gene transcription of PTHrP per se can also be downregulated by 1,25(OH)(2)D and by low calcemic vitamin D analogs. This inhibitory effect may reduce the hypercalcemia caused by overproduction of PTHrP by tumor cells. In a malignant keratinoctye cell line, phosphorylation of the retinoid X receptor alpha occurs through the activated Ras-MAP kinase pathway and results in attenuated trans-activation by the vitamin D receptor, its heterodimeric partner. This decreases the growth-inhibitory efficacy of 1,25(OH)(2)D. Studies of the capacity of vitamin D to alter PTHrP production and action and of its anti-proliferative effects can, therefore, shed important light on basic mechanisms controlling these events, and may also have major implications for clinical medicine and therapeutics.